February

What to do in your Mountain garden in February
Marcia Tatroe

Plant

Miniature roses sold at markets in time for Valentine’s Day will keep blooming if you display them on a sunny windowsill inside your home. Later this spring, plant these little gems outside in garden beds or containers for flowers in years to come.

Start seeds inside of cool-season veggies—including‚ broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, leeks, onion, and Swiss chard—indoors, for planting outdoors in garden beds six weeks before the average frost date in your area.

Sow seeds of salad greens such as arugula, beet, lettuce, mesclun mix, mustard, radicchio, and spinach in large containers outdoors. To protect tender leaves from frost, drape floating row covers over the pots day and night; secure them with a bungee cord looped around the pot. Keep seeds evenly moist until they germinate by watering over the covers—irrigation seeps right through. Start snipping greens when they are 1 to 2 inches tall.

For best selection, buy summer-blooming bulbs at garden centers now. Plant hardy types like lilies, liatris, and lily-of-the-valley as soon as the soil is workable. Store frost-tender bulbs, including begonias, caladiums, cannas, dahlias, and gladiolas in a cool, dry place until the soil warms up in spring.

Maintain

As soon as the soil thaws, remove deep-rooted weeds like dandelions, salsify and malva and plunge a trowel into the soil alongside the taproot and push against the root to loosen it. Grasp the base of the plant firmly and pull—the whole plant easily pops out.

Continue adding kitchen scraps to your compost. When the compost dries out, set a sprinkler on top and run it until the entire contents are moist but not soggy wet.

Shovel snow onto garden beds to add extra moisture and insulation to help prevent temperature swings in the soil.

Water all gardens and landscape plants whenever snow or rain hasn’t fallen in 30 days or more. Choose a warm day when freezing temperatures are not in the forecast for that evening.

Protect

Sparrows and house finches tear up crocus blossoms—especially yellow varieties. Place foil pinwheels every few feet among the flowers to discourage the birds.

Feed

When natural foods are scarce, birds rely on feeders to get through the winter. Set out several types of seed mixes and suet to attract a variety of birds. Hang feeders over a patio or other hard surface to make spillage cleanup easy and to prevent the seeds from sprouting in your garden.